The Journey Draws to a Close, but Discoveries still Continue
This sixth article in our series will continue on our “Journey of Discovery Through Time” started in the previous two articles using the signposts and environment information we have gleaned from the summaries of Bible Chapters from articles (2) and (3) in this series and the Questions for reflection in article (3).
As in the previous articles, to ensure that the journey is easy to follow, the scriptures analysed and discussed will usually be quoted in full for easy reference, enabling repeated re-reading of the context and text to be possible. Of course, the reader is strongly encouraged to read these passages in the Bible directly if possible.
In this article we will examine the following and make additional discoveries along the way:
- Individual passages of Key Scriptures (continued)
- Daniel 9 – Daniel’s age limits period from Jerusalem’s destruction to Cyrus
- 2 Chronicles 36 – Paying off of Sabbaths not a fixed number of years
- Zechariah 1 – 70 years of denunciation different time period to 70 years of servitude
- Haggai 1 & 2 – Temple rebuild restarted
- Zechariah 7 – Fasting for 70 years period different to 70 years of servitude
- Isaiah 23 – Tyre to be forgotten for yet another different 70-year period
Time Written: Months following Fall of Babylon to Cyrus and Darius
Scripture: “In the first year of Da·riʹus the son of A·has·u·eʹrus of the seed of the Medes, who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chal·deʹans; 2 in the first year of his reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, [namely,] seventy years. 3 And I proceeded to set my face to Jehovah the [true] God, in order to seek [him] with prayer and with entreaties, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 And I began to pray to Jehovah my God and to make confession and to say:”
The number of years which would fulfil / complete / bring to an end the desolations[i] (ruining’s) of Jerusalem in the context of Babylon having just fallen and (a) Jeremiah 25 “serve Babylon 70 years” and (b) Jeremiah 27 “for Babylon 70 years”[ii] had now just finished. That is what Daniel had discerned. Given that Jehovah’s blessing and his holy spirit was clearly on Daniel, we are prompted to ask the following questions:
Why did Daniel not discern before the 1st Year of Darius the Mede (after the fall of Babylon) when the 70 years of Jeremiah would end? Could it be because?
- prophecy is usually understood after fulfilment, not before, and
- the start date of the 70 years was not obvious, even though he clearly knew when Jerusalem was finally destroyed in the 19th year (18th regnal year) of Nebuchadnezzar? (Ezekiel was in Babylon and records that the destruction of Jerusalem had occurred when he received report from an escapee as recorded in Ezekiel 33:21[iii], and so clearly Daniel would have known from this source as well as from being in service of King Nebuchadnezzar.)
- As a result of (ii) the start date not being obvious, there was no way to calculate the end date in advance. If Daniel knew the 70 years started with the final destruction of Jerusalem, he could have easily calculated forward.
He did not because:
(a) he discerned the 70 years had ended in 539 BCE with the fall of Babylon after the event. Indeed, he must have reflected that he had been instrumental in conveying the fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy by interpreting the writing on the wall to Belshazzar, recorded in Daniel 5:26 where he stated “This is the interpretation of the word: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it (brought it to an end)”.
(b) If the period of 70 years had related to the devastations mentioned in Daniel 9:2, there were at least two starting points, (1) the time of siege leading to the death of Jehoiakim in his 11th year and leading on to the exile of Jehoiachin, and (2) the final destruction of Jerusalem. There was also probably a third, the 4th year of Jehoiakim. (See Jeremiah 25:17-26 in Part 5 of this series)
Finally (c), if the period related to Babylonian servitude and control, it would not have been clear as to what date to count from.
- Was it when Babylon took the capital of Assyria and became the prevailing world power?
- Or, when Nebuchadnezzar killed the final Assyrian king Assur-uballit III?
- Or, when Babylon invaded Judah to enforce its supremacy on Jehoiakim?
- Or, when Babylon crushed the rebellion of Jehoiakim?
- Or, when Babylon took the first exiles or the largest number of the exiles 3 months after the death of Jehoiakim including Jehoiachin?
- Or, when Babylon finally completely destroyed Jerusalem in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar.
While Daniel has discerned that period of 70 years was fulfilled or completed, he also realised more was required to enable the Jews to return. Daniel proceeded to pray on behalf of his people for forgiveness as he also discerned from Deuteronomy 4:25-31[iv], 1 Kings 8:46-52[v] and Jeremiah 29:12-29, so that the Jews would be released and able to return to their homeland. Jehovah heard and accepted his prayer on behalf of the Jews and moved Cyrus to make his decree allowing the return and a start of rebuilding Jerusalem. This was in the 1st year of Cyrus reign over Babylon. This is understood to be 539 BCE / 538 BCE. It was also the 1st Year of Darius the Mede who ruled at least one year over Babylon.
Question: How old was Daniel when Babylon fell to Cyrus?
Daniel 1:1-6 indicates Daniel was taken to Babylon in the 3rd or 4th Year of Jehoiakim. He would likely have been at least 8 years old or more at that time to have memories of that time and to have been chosen.
- Under the scenario of a 48-year desolation, when Babylon fell, he would be 75 years old (8 + 8 + 11 + 48 = 75). (8 years old + 8 years remainder Jehoiakim’s reign + 11 years Zedekiah’s reign to Fall of Jerusalem + 48 years After Fall of Jerusalem (586 BCE to Fall of Babylon 539 BCE).
- Under the scenario of a 68-year desolation, he would have been 95 years old (8 + 8 + 11 + 68 = 95). At this old age Daniel would have hardly been in a position to prosper in the Kingdom of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. (Daniel 6:28).
Fig 4.11 Age of Daniel under the two scenarios.
Main Discovery Number 11: Daniel discerned the 70-year servitude to Babylon was now finished when he interpreted the writing on the wall to Babylonian King Belshazzar (Not 2 years later). Daniel would likely have died by the time of Cyrus destruction of Babylon if Jerusalem’s final destruction was 607 BCE with a 68-year exile, rather than prospering as per the Bible account.
Time Period: Summary, from before Destruction of Jerusalem, to Fall of Babylon to Cyrus and Darius
Scripture: “And Jehovah the God of their forefathers kept sending against them by means of his messengers, sending again and again, because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling. 16 But they were continually making jest at the messengers of the [true] God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets, until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people, until there was no healing.
17 So he brought up against them the king of the Chal·deʹans, who proceeded to kill their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, neither did he feel compassion for young man or virgin, old or decrepit. Everything He gave into his hand. 18 And all the utensils, great and small, of the house of the [true] God and the treasures of the house of Jehovah and the treasures of the king and of his princes, everything he brought to Babylon. 19 And he proceeded to burn the house of the [true] God and pull down the wall of Jerusalem; and all its dwelling towers they burned with fire and also all its desirable articles, so as to cause ruin. 20 Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; 21 to fulfill Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
This passage was written as a history or summary of past events rather than prophecy of future events.
It highlights how the Israelites / Judeans kept on doing what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes and rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar. This happened on the part of all the last three kings of Judah: Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Both the Kings and the people rejected the warning messages of Jehovah’s prophets. As a result, Jehovah finally allowed Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and kill the majority of those not already exiled. The remnants of survivors were taken to Babylon until Babylon’s capture by the Persians to fulfil Jeremiah’s prophecies. In the meantime, the land paid off the numerous ignored Sabbaths[vi] until the completion of the 70 years of servitude to Babylon.
A closer examination of verses 20 -22 reveals the following:
Verse 20 says: “Furthermore he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign”. This indicates that in this exile at the time of Zedekiah there were few taken into captivity. A substantial portion of the Judeans had already been previously exiled at the time of the exile of Jehoiachin and now a large proportion of those left from that time had now been killed in fulfilment of Jeremiah 24. Additionally, the servitude ended when Medo-Persia took Babylon and began to reign over Babylon, not after.
Verse 21 states: “to fulfil Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its Sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept Sabbath, to fulfill 70 years.” The writer of Chronicles (Ezra) comments on the reason why they had to serve Babylon. It was twofold,
(1) to fulfil Jeremiah’s prophecies from Jehovah and
(2) for the land to lay desolate for that time to pay off its Sabbaths as required by Leviticus 26:34.
This paying off its Sabbaths would be fulfilled or completed at the end of the 70 years. What 70 years? Jeremiah 25:13 says “when 70 years have been fulfilled (completed), I will call to account the King of Babylon and that nation”. So, the 70-year period ended with the calling to account of the King of Babylon, not a return to Judah, nor a calling to account of Cyrus the Persian as King of Babylon.
The passage of scripture does not say “desolated 70 years” or “exiled 70 years”, see Jeremiah 42:7-22 where even after the destruction of Jerusalem they could have stayed in Judea. Rather it states that the land kept Sabbath, paying off its Sabbaths not kept, until the completion of the 70-year time period given by Jeremiah. The construction and wording of the passage does not require that the Sabbath keeping period be mandated to be 70 years, only that the period of time Judah was desolate be sufficient to pay back the omitted Sabbaths.
Was a specific time period required to pay off the Sabbaths? If so, on what basis should it be calculated?
If we take 70 years as the required period, we find the following: Between 587 BCE and 1487 BCE (around the time of entry into Canaan) are 900 years and 18 Jubilee cycles. 18 x 8 Sabbath years per cycle are 144 years. Between 987 BCE (the start of the reign of Rehoboam) and 587 BCE (destruction of Jerusalem) are 400 years and 8 Jubilee cycles which equates to 64 years (8×8) and this assumes the Sabbath years were ignored for every single one of these years. This makes it clear it is not possible to calculate the exact number of years that needed to be paid off, nor is there any convenient or obvious start period to match either 70 or 50 missed Sabbath years. This would surely indicate that the paying off of Sabbaths was not a specific payback, but rather sufficient time elapsed during the period of desolation to pay back what was owing.
A final, but vital point is that there is more significance in having a desolation length of 50 years than 70 years. With a length of 50 years of desolation and exile, the significance of their release and return to Judah in the Jubilee Year (50th) of exile would not be lost on the Jews who were returning, having served a full cycle of Sabbath years in exile. 587 BCE to 538 BCE was 49 years. 538 BCE was the first (regnal) year of Cyrus the Great and the year he released them. The Jubilee year (50th year) was the year they arrived back in Judah and were able to start rebuilding.[vii]
As 2 Chronicles 26:22,23 states “And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia, so that he caused a cry to pass through all his kingdom, saying “This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said ‘All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, …. Whoever there is among you of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him. So let him go up.’”
Fig 4.12 Jubilee Cycle of Years for the land to pay of its Sabbath years missed and release took place in the Jubilee year.
Main Discovery Number 12: The land of Judah was able to rest sufficiently to fulfil its missed Sabbath years. Exile and Release of Jews taken to Babylon at the final fall of Jerusalem coincided with the start and close of a Jewish 50-year Jubilee Year cycle.
13. Zechariah 1:1, 7, 12, 16 – Mercy to Jerusalem and Judah, whom you have been indignant these 70 years
Written: – 19 Years after Fall of Babylon to Cyrus and Darius
Scripture: “In the eighth month in the second year of Da·riʹus the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·riʹah the son of Ber·e·chiʹah the son of Idʹdo the prophet, saying: 2 “Jehovah grew indignant at YOUR fathers—very much so.’, ‘On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, that is, the month Sheʹbat, in the second year of Da·riʹus, the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·riʹah the son of Ber·e·chiʹah the son of Idʹdo the prophet, saying:’ ‘12 So the angel of Jehovah answered and said: “O Jehovah of armies, how long will you yourself not show mercy to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah, whom you have denounced these seventy years?”’, ‘16 “Therefore this is what Jehovah has said, ‘“I shall certainly return to Jerusalem with mercies. My own house will be built in her,” is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, “and a measuring line itself will be stretched out over Jerusalem.””
This was written in the 11th month of the 2nd Year of Darius the Great in approximately 520BC[viii]. It is in this context that Zechariah writes “So the angel of Jehovah said ”O Jehovah of armies, how long will you withhold your mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom you have been indignant these 70 years.””
What was the context of Zechariah’s account? The temple was not yet rebuilt because of the hindrance perpetrated by opposers as recorded in Ezra 4:1-24. This lasted through the latter part of the reign of Cyrus (9 of 11 years over Babylon), the reign of Ahasuerus (possibly the throne name of Cambyses II the son of Cyrus, 8 years) and Artaxerxes (possibly the throne name taken by Bardiya, possibly a usurper or brother of Cambyses, 7 months maximum) to the reign of Darius the Persian (the Great). They had been freed by Cyrus and returned full of enthusiasm to rebuild Jerusalem and Judah, and the temple, but this enthusiasm quickly evaporated in the face of continued interference and opposition.
Furthermore, verse 16 ‘“I shall certainly return to Jerusalem with mercies. My own house will be built in her,” indicates that it would still be future from that date when Jehovah would show mercy to Jerusalem and ensure his temple was rebuilt.
These 70 years therefore would logically refer to 70 years from the date of writing. If we go back from 520 BCE to 11th month 589 BCE we have 69 years, the year back to 11th month 590 BCE is the 70th year. Under secular chronology, did anything related start between 11th month 590 BCE and 11th month 589 BCE that would match this period?
Yes, the start of the siege of Jerusalem in Zedekiah’s 9th Year (589 BCE secular chronology) in the 10th month which was in the 70th year.[ix] If we attempt to use a 68-year period of Exile and Desolation from Babylon’s fall to Jerusalem’s destruction nothing of any importance or related event took place in 589 BCE as the land of Judah was desolate.
Was this the same 70-year period that Jeremiah referred to? The reasonable conclusion we should draw is NO! There is nothing in this passage of Zechariah that directly links or even suggests a link of this period of 70 years to the 70 years mentioned in either Jeremiah 25 or Jeremiah 29. If the passage was in the past tense (those 70 years) it could be referring to Jeremiah’s 70 years, but the verse states “these[x] 70 years” implying 70 years from the current time.
Fig 4.13 Jehovah indignant at Judah & Israel 70 years
Main Discovery Number 13: The 70-year period mentioned in Zechariah does not refer to servitude, but rather denunciation.
Written: 19 Years after Fall of Babylon to Cyrus and Darius
Scripture: “In the second year of Da·riʹus the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of Jehovah occurred by means of Hagʹgai the prophet to Ze·rubʹba·bel the son of She·alʹti·el, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Je·hozʹa·dak the high priest, saying 2 “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘As regards this people, they have said: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for [it] to be built.’
‘In the seventh [month], on the twenty-first [day] of the month, the word of Jehovah occurred by means of Hagʹgai the prophet, saying: 2 “Say, please, to Ze·rubʹba·bel the son of She·alʹti·el, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Je·hozʹa·dak the high priest, and to the remaining ones of the people, saying, 3 ‘Who is there among YOU that is remaining over who saw this house in its former glory? And how are YOU people seeing it now? Is it not, in comparison with that, as nothing in YOUR eyes?’
4 “‘But now be strong, O Ze·rubʹba·bel,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and be strong, O Joshua the son of Je·hozʹa·dak the high priest.’
“‘And be strong, all YOU people of the land,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and work.’
“‘For I am with YOU people,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.’””
Haggai writes in the 2nd Year of Darius the Great. We know this from (13) Zechariah 1:12. Haggai and Zechariah were given messages from Jehovah to revitalise the Jews into returning to continue and finish the rebuilding of the Temple, of which only the foundations had been laid. In the intervening 18 years since the fall of Babylon, the Jews had gone on to rebuild and panel their houses (the finishing touches), but not returned to building the Temple. Haggai asks in chapter 2:3, “Who is there among you that is remaining over who saw this house in its former glory? And how are you people seeing it now? Is it not in comparison with that, as nothing in your eyes?”
How old were these ones now? Yes, how old were Jews who had seen the former temple and could still remember what it was like? The 2nd Year of Darius was approximately 520 BCE. To remember the former temple sufficiently well, they would need to have been at least say 10 years old. When Zechariah wrote it was now 19 years after the fall of Babylon = 29 years (10 + 19). If this time period was 68 years from the destruction of the temple to the fall of Babylon (i.e. 607 BCE – 539 BCE), they would now be 97 years old (29 + 68). Even a 5-year-old at the fall of Jerusalem (if dated at 607 BCE) would be 92 by the time of the 2nd year of Darius the Great. How many 92-year olds or 97-year olds or even older would have survived to then and more importantly, how many could remember the temple? Even in today’s Western World with good medical care, there are very few 92 to 100-year olds. Yet there were sufficient survivors gathered there for Haggai to make the point: You remember Solomon’s temple, how does what you have built compare to that?
What if the fall of Jerusalem was in 587 BCE? That would still make the subjects of Haggai’s question 77 years old plus. (10 + 48 + 19), yet it would be possible[xi], rather than impractical and unlikely. (10 years old + 48 years (after Jerusalem’s Fall to before Babylon Fall) + 19 years (Fall of Babylon to Darius 2nd Year).
We also need to remember that the greater amount of exiles had been taken to Babylon with Jehoiachin, 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem making them 88 years old plus (10 + 11 + 48 + 19). (10 years old +11 years (reign of Zedekiah to Fall of Jerusalem) + 48 years (after Jerusalem’s Fall to before Babylon Fall) + 19 years (Fall of Babylon to Darius 2nd Year). This fact therefore gives strong circumstantial evidence that the period from the destruction of Jerusalem until the return sanctioned by Cyrus was only 48 years, rather than 68 years.
Fig 4.14 Remembering the Glory of Solomon’s Temple
Main Discovery Number 14: Many elderly Jews seeing Temple rebuilding starting in Darius the Great 2nd year were young enough to still remember Solomon’s Temple before its destruction. This only allows for a 48-year period rather than a 68-year gap between Jerusalem’s final destruction and the fall of Babylon to Cyrus.
Written: 21 Years after Fall of Babylon to Cyrus and Darius
Scripture: “Furthermore, it came about that in the fourth year of Da·riʹus the king the word of Jehovah occurred to Zech·a·riʹah, on the fourth [day] of the ninth month, [that is,] in Chisʹlev.’,’4 And the word of Jehovah of armies continued to occur to me, saying: 5 “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When YOU fasted and there was a wailing in the fifth [month] and in the seventh [month], and this for seventy years, did YOU really fast to me, even me? 6 And when YOU would eat and when YOU would drink, were not YOU the ones doing the eating, and were not YOU the ones doing the drinking? 7 [Should YOU] not [obey] the words that Jehovah called out by means of the former prophets, while Jerusalem happened to be inhabited, and at ease, with her cities all around her, and [while] the Negʹeb and the She·pheʹlah were inhabited?’””
This passage was written in the 9th month of the 4th Year of King Darius (the Great) in approximately 518 BCE[xii].
The question raised by the repatriated Jews to the priests was the following: Should they continue to weep and fast in the 5th month as they had been doing for many years? The reply of Jehovah in verse 5 was to tell the priests and the people “(5) When you fasted and wailed in the 5th month (anniversary of destruction of Jerusalem and Temple) and in the 7th month (anniversary of murder of Gedaliah and remnant moving to Egypt) for[xiii] 70 years, did you really fast for me? (6) And when you would eat and drink, were you not eating for yourselves and drinking for yourselves? (7) Should you not obey the words that Jehovah proclaimed through the former prophets, while Jerusalem and her surrounding cities were inhabited and at peace…?”
Here Jehovah was making the point recorded in 1 Samuel 15:22 “Does Jehovah take as much pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices (and fasting and weeping we could add) as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice and to pay attention than the fat of rams.” In other words, their fasting and weeping was not required nor asked for by Jehovah, but obedience was.
What period did these 70 years cover? They were still fasting and weeping and wanted to know if they should stop. Therefore, the period was ongoing at that time, and hence logically it was 70 years going back from that time of writing and asking the question.
It could not be to some time period completed nearly 20 years before in 539 BCE. If we go back to the 9th month 587 BCE we have 69 years, the year back to 9th month 588 BCE is the 70th year. Under secular chronology, did anything related start between the 9th month 588 BCE and 11th month 587 BCE that would match this period? According to secular chronology Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BCE. The scriptures record the events being remembered in the fasting and weeping as the 5th month (Jerusalem’s destruction) and the 7th month (Gedaliah’s murder and the land left empty),[xiv] i.e. in the 70th year, working back from the year the question was being raised.
If we attempt to use a 70-year period of Exile and Desolation from Jerusalem’s Destruction starting in 607 BCE, nothing of any importance or related event took place in 588 BCE / 587 BCE which is the date we arrive at if we work back 70 years from the 4th Year of Darius in 518 BCE. Was Zechariah discussing the same period of 70 years as that was prophesied by Jeremiah? The reasonable conclusion we should draw is NO! There is nothing in this passage of Zechariah that directly links this 70-year period to the 70 years mentioned in Jeremiah 25 or Jeremiah 29.
Fig 4.15 – 70 years of fasting
Main Discovery Number 15: The 70 years of fasting mentioned in Zechariah 7 is not related to the 70 years of servitude. It covers from the year of writing in the 4th year of Darius the Great back to the final destruction of Jerusalem.
Written more than 100 years before Jerusalem’s destruction.
Scripture: “11 Jehovah himself has given a command against Phoe·niʹcia, to annihilate her strongholds. 12 And he says: “You must never again exult, O oppressed one, the virgin daughter of Siʹdon. Get up, cross over to Kitʹtim itself. Even there it will not be restful for you.” 13 Look! The land of the Chal·deʹans. This is the people—As·syrʹi·a did not prove to be [the one]—they founded her for the desert haunters. They have erected their siege towers; they have stripped bare her dwelling towers; one has set her as a crumbling ruin. 14 Howl, YOU ships of Tarʹshish, for YOUR stronghold has been despoiled. 15 And it must occur in that day that Tyre must be forgotten seventy years, the same as the days of one king. At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of a prostitute: 16 “Take a harp, go around the city, O forgotten prostitute. Do your best at playing on the strings; make your songs many, in order that you may be remembered.” 17 And it must occur at the end of seventy years that Jehovah will turn his attention to Tyre, and she must return to her hire and commit prostitution with all the kingdoms of the earth upon the surface of the ground. 18 And her profit and her hire must become something holy to Jehovah. It will not be stored up, nor be laid up, because her hire will come to be for those dwelling before Jehovah, for eating to satisfaction and for elegant covering.”
Here Isaiah foretold that lowly Babylon at that time under domination of Assyria, would become the people to bring destruction to Tyre. (v13). It was prophesied that Tyre would be forgotten for 70 years. However, this is 70 years is applying to Tyre rather than specifically linked to the 70-year period in Jeremiah. Isaiah also makes the point that this was as the days (lifetime) of one king. It is therefore not necessarily exactly 70 years. The Psalmist said similarly in Psalm 90:10 talking about our lifespan “In themselves the days of our years are seventy years. And if because of special mightiness they are 80 years”. Obviously, the Psalmist was not talking specific lengths but approximate, a lifetime.
Additionally, we are told what would happen at the end of the seventy years. Jehovah would turn his attention and allow Tyre to resume her trading, and the profit and revenue would be set aside for Jehovah. Ezekiel 26 repeats this warning against Tyre in the year that Jerusalem (under the rule of Zedekiah) fell to Nebuchadnezzar: “3 therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up against you many nations, just as the sea brings up its waves. 4 And they will certainly bring the walls of Tyre to ruin and tear down her towers, and I will scrape her dust away from her and make her a shining, bare surface of a crag. 5 A drying yard for dragnets is what she will become in the midst of the sea.’
“‘For I myself have spoken,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘and she must become an object of plunder for the nations. 6 And her dependent towns that are in the field—by the sword they will be killed, and people will have to know that I am Jehovah.’
7 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am bringing against Tyre Neb·u·chad·rezʹzar the king of Babylon from the north, a king of kings, with horses and war chariots and cavalrymen and a congregation, even a multitudinous people. 8 Your dependent towns in the field he will kill even with the sword, and he must make against you a siege wall and throw up against you a siege rampart and raise up against you a large shield; 9 and the strike of his attack engine he will direct against your walls, and your towers he will pull down, with his swords.”
What do we find in secular history?
There is nothing concrete in secular history, but Josephus mentions Phoenicia as being captive around the time of the death of Nebuchadnezzar’s father (and hence the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign) which was likely 605 BCE / 604 BCE by secular history. The fall of Tyre was also in the reign of Eth’baal / I’tho’baal of Tyre whose reign ended in approximately 596 BCE working back from the 14th Year of Hiram which was 560 BCE when Cyrus starting reigning over Persia. Adding 68 years (not an exact 70) would bring us to 537 BCE, around the time the Temple started to be rebuilt under Cyrus, only to stop due to opposition within a few years. It seems this was the likely period of fulfilment prophesied by Isaiah.
An alternative is that the main rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem which would have required goods from Tyre only properly started in the 2nd Year of Darius the Persian (Great) according to the scriptures, which secular history has as 520 BCE. Adding back 70 years comes to 589 BCE / 590 BCE the year before Jerusalem fell for the last time under Zedekiah, but while it was under siege and therefore unable to trade with Tyre. Either way we can be assured that Isaiah’s prophecy came true and was seen as a true prophet by those returned Jews.
Main Discovery Number 16: The 70-year period for Tyre was yet another unrelated 70-year period and has two possible periods that fulfill the requirements of the prophecy.
This almost concludes our “Journey of Discovery through Time”. However, you will not want to miss the brief review of all the discoveries together and in particular the potentially life changing implications of these findings in our concluding part 7.
[i] Note: desolations – plural, Jerusalem had been laid waste likely during the 4th year of Jehoiakim, in the 11th Year resulting in the death of Jehoiakim and within 3 months leading to Jehoiachin’s exile, as well as at Zedekiah’s exile in his 11th year.
[iii] Ezekiel 33:21, 23, 24 “At length it occurred in the twelfth year, in the tenth [month], on the fifth day of the month of our exile, that there came to me the escaped one from Jerusalem, saying: “The city has been struck down!” 23 And the word of Jehovah began to occur to me, saying: 24 “Son of man, the inhabitants of these devastated places are saying even concerning the soil of Israel, ‘Abraham happened to be just one and yet he took possession of the land. And we are many; to us the land has been given as something to possess.’”
[iv] Deuteronomy 4:25-31. See Part 4, Section 2, “Earlier Prophecies Fulfilled by the events of the Jewish Exile and return”.
[v] 1 Kings 8:46-52. See Part 4, Section 2, “Earlier Prophecies Fulfilled by the events of the Jewish Exile and return”.
[vi] See Prophesy in Leviticus 26:34. See Part 4, Section 2, “Earlier Prophecies Fulfilled by the events of the Jewish Exile and return” where Israel would be desolated to pay off its Sabbaths, if they ignored Jehovah’s law, but no time period was specified.
[vii] To keep things simple months are omitted in the main text. 2 Kings 25:25 indicates the land was empty from either the 7th month or shortly thereafter in 587 BCE. Therefore, 49 years ended in the 7th month 538 BCE, with the 50th and Jubilee year starting in the 8th Month of 538 BCE until the 7th Month of 537 BCE.
[viii] See Ezra 4:4, 5, 24 to confirm that this scripture refers to Darius the Great (Persian) rather than Darius the Mede. The book of Daniel always uses the phrase “Darius the Mede” which distinguishes him from Darius or Darius the Persian. Accepted secular chronology puts Darius the Persians 1st Year as circa 521BC. (see Comprehensive Time Chart)
[ix] See Ezekiel 24:1, 2 that also confirms the start of the siege of Jerusalem as being 10th day 10th month, 9th year of Jehoiachin exile / Zedekiah’s rule.
[xi] Psalm 90:10 “In themselves the days of our years are seventy years; And if because of special mightiness they are eighty years.”
[xii] When quoting secular chronology dates at this time period in history we need to be careful in stating dates categorically as there is rarely a full consensus on a particular event occurring in a particular year. In this document I have used popular secular chronology for non-biblical events unless otherwise stated.